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Old 12-31-2022, 08:13 AM   #1
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Default Paddling Year in Review 2022

It’s that time of year again to reflect on the most recent paddling season. Below are my personal high points and low points. I hope that a few other club members will chime in with their most memorable (and regrettable or forgettable) paddling-related experiences. Happy New Year!


High Points

1. New Waters

Paddling a section of river or other body of water for the first time automatically makes my list of a paddling season’s high points. During 2022, I was lucky to paddle six new water bodies/sections of river for the first time:

Spring Creek – Lee County, FL (February 21)
Bessemer Lake – Lawrence County, PA (club’s ice breaker run, March 20)
Conneaut Creek from State Rd to Creek Rd (club trip, April 3)
Mahoning and Beaver rivers from Covert’s Crossing to Bevington Access in Wampum, PA (club trip, May 15)
Cuyahoga River from Cuyahoga St, Akron, Ohio to Bolanz Rd, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (Friends of the Crooked River trip, July 10)
Pymatuning Lake (club safety training and picnic, July 30)

2. Spring Creek

I paddled two sections of this beautiful mangrove-lined tidal creek in Lee County, FL with a long-time friend who resides in Bonita Springs, FL during the winter. [Do I dare say I paddled it with the k word? LOL!] On both occasions we encountered several manatees, the first times I had ever seen these gentle giants in the wild.

3. Conneaut Creek

What a beautiful and fun run nine paddlers had on this hard-to-catch gem! The creek rewarded everyone with a peppy current, dozens of class I rapids and delightful riverscape filled with shale cliffs, hemlocks and bone-colored sycamores that stood in stark visual contrast to the cloudy skies on a damp, chilly day in early April. This is a must-catch-again run.

4. Safety Training at Pymatuning Lake

This was a very welcome refresher and excellent practice for open water boat over boat rescue and re-entry. It also answered the question of how to get back to shore in a swamped canoe in the middle of a lake with no rescue boats nearby–with legs extended flat along the bottom of the boat and head and arms just above the water in the boat, simply paddle slowly to shore. Thanks again to Dustin Noel for arranging this training.

5. Midwest Canoe Symposium

This annual three-day event held on Lake Litchfield at Camp Butler in Peninsula, Ohio on the weekend after Labor Day attracts some of the nation’s most skilled freestyle paddlers. It’s a great opportunity to learn in a wide selection of freestyle classes. This year was no different. One realizes how much there is still to learn! It a wonderful three-day immersion into “obedience training for canoes” as some like to call it. Highly recommended.

Low Points

1. Conneaut Creek, April 3

While paddling the creek was an absolute delight, the shuttle route left much to be desired. The roads were a class II-III muddied and potholed mess requiring drivers to zig and zag along much of the route like dodging rocks in a river.

2. Mahoning River into the Beaver River, May 15

On what was otherwise a great trip starting at Covert’s Crossing, the take out at Bevington Access on the Beaver River was an oozing, stinking, highly slick muddy mess. It’s amazing that no one took a spill getting their boats from the river to the parking lot.

3. Mahoning River into the Beaver River, May 15

There had been a fair amount of rain the night before this trip, and the Mahoning at Covert’s Crossing was running swift and had some large standing waves in the middle of the river. I had never been on the Mahoning below Covert’s nor on the Beaver River formed by the confluence of the Mahoning and Shenango rivers. Seeing how fast the Mahoning was running at the put in, I assumed that it must be running comparably fast down river.

This led to concern when two newbie paddlers arrived for the trip. I spoke to the trip leader and suggested that we need to make these new paddlers aware of the possibility that they may find themselves in difficulty right off the bat and that it was OK to bow out. But if they did not bow out, we would be there to help them in any way we had to.

The newbies decided they had come all this way and that they were going to paddle! Fortunately, the fast water and wild waves at the put in quickly dissipated very shortly after paddlers hit the river. The new paddlers made their way beautifully through the swift water and the water level was perfect the rest of the trip. I apologized to the newbies several times in the course of the afternoon if I had unnecessarily frightened them. It was a good lesson to me not to assume what one sees at the put in will necessarily found down river, particularly on a stretch of river one has not previously paddled.

Last edited by JPTolson; 12-31-2022 at 09:03 AM.
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